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Leave your mark by advocating for infertility care

Macafee

Words can’t necessarily describe my emotions when I answered my phone April 5.

All I could hear on the other end of the line was sobbing. It wasn’t good news.

My wife had just gone through her first set of shots for In vitro fertilization and we had been waiting to hear if any eggs had been fertilized after her egg retrieval the day before. Of the eight that were retrieved, one made it to fertilization. Simply put, my wife and I were devastated. The odds were stacked against us, to begin with, so we tried to remain positive as we believed the one egg was all we needed to make our dreams come true.

However, five days later, we were given the news that the final egg did not make it to the blastocyst stage, ending our hopes of becoming parents at this time and shattering a dream.

Our journey to build a family started over a year ago and began with two failed rounds of another medication. But nothing really could have prepared us for the roller coaster of an adventure on which we were about to embark.

It was full of ups and downs, multiple tests, early mornings, long nights and a few different procedures. We finally started our IVF journey March 21. Over the next two weeks, my wife gave herself 28 shots before going to the doctor for her egg retrieval, where we ultimately received the bad news a few days later.

While we didn’t receive the outcome we had hoped for, my wife and I were truly grateful to be able to try something that not many people are able to try.

See, this whole process started after my wife’s employer changed insurance, giving us the ability to financially try IVF. Not many have that opportunity as infertility is not often covered by most insurance plans, as they find it “not medically necessary.” This means couples around the country must pay out of pocket for treatments, just to try and have children.

I wanted to use this space today to share this story with you because this past week, April 21-27, was National Infertility Awareness Week.

NIAW is a movement, founded in 1989 by RESOLVE and its mission is to empower women, and couples, around the country to change the conversation around infertility. NIAW has set out to reduce the stigma and educate the public about reproductive health and issues that make building a family so difficult. It also moves to empower those whose lives are changed when they struggle to build a family.

The movement is observed annually to show legislators and the public that infertility is an issue that affects many, and deserves undivided attention.

The World Health Organization estimates that roughly 1 in 6 people worldwide are affected by infertility, while the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Advanced Reproductive Technologies states that 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility as well. So it’s highly likely that you know of someone that is struggling with infertility and there are plenty of ways that you can support them.

First, you can commit to compassionate language. Trauma associated with infertility comes with poorly worded questions or statements that force those struggling with infertility into uncomfortable situations. Resist the urge to ask people “when they plan on having children” or if they are trying.

Secondly, you can educate yourself. Read books, attend seminars or webinars or watch videos from reputable sources that help you learn more about infertility and the challenges that couples face. Knowing what someone is going through can help you understand their situation tremendously.

Other ways you can support people going through infertility is by wearing Orange — RESOLVE uses orange to raise awareness and increase activity around an important movement — sharing your story, or supporting infertility organizations.

The past year has been a whirlwind for my wife and I as we jumped feet-first into this process. I will say it’s nothing that I ever imagined. Being the optimist that I am, I always thought that things would turn out for the better. However, that was not the case. Results may be defeating and heartbreaking at the moment, but I believe that it is important for people to know that you are not alone.

Sometimes it takes weeks like this to remember that.

Have an interesting news story? Contact Greg Macafee at gmacafee@tribtoday.com or follow him on X at @greg_macafee.

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